NUJP reminds journos: Be careful with questions about red-tagging
MANILA, Philippines — The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) has reminded journalists to be more sensitive and respectful when they ask questions, especially about red-tagging.
NUJP said on Tuesday that they understood that sometimes reporters need to press hard questions. However, the group stressed that this should be done in a way that does not “add credence” to red-tagging allegations.
The issue came after Ana Patricia Non, the organizer of the Maginhawa Food Pantry, was forced to close down the initiative due to fears of being red-tagged. However, during a press conference, a reporter asked Non whether she really had links with communist groups.
“The NUJP recognizes the right of media colleagues to ask the hard questions when covering sensitive issues such as red-tagging. However, we also urge them to do so with utmost sensitivity and respect to individuals, groups and initiatives that have been the subjects of such vilification campaign,” NUJP said.
“As media practitioners, we should not be [a] party or add credence to red-tagging campaigns that vilify human rights defenders, community organizers and even fellow journalists by linking them to the armed communist movement,” it added.
During the briefing, Non complained that the reporter’s question was “very dirty,” saying it’s the last thing she needs to talk about because her initiative has already been made clear.
— Inquirer (@inquirerdotnet) April 20, 2021
A community pantry emerged recently in Maginhawa and the idea spread nationwide after Metro Manila and nearby provinces went through an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and subsequently a modified ECQ due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
As a result of strict quarantine protocols, several families were left without income since government assistance did not reach them all. The food pantry provided immediate food aid, by accepting items donated by sectors.
However, netizens were outraged on Monday after reports came in that police officers tried to get personal information from the community pantry organizers.
Other government social media pages linked pantry organizers to progressive groups that have been victimized by red-tagging as well.
However, the pantry organizers were assured that profiling was not occurring.
NUJP stressed that the burden of proof should always be on the accusers, and not the people being accused.
“The burden of proof should always lie on the accuser and hard questions on the evidence behind these accusations should be directed at the officials of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, the police and the military,” NUJP said.
“In getting to the truth of the story, we should be mindful of the risk our line of questioning would pose to our interview subjects,” it added.
Due to this, NUJP also noted that differences of belief, and the questioning line, are not sufficient reasons for bullying a journalist even online.
“That said, we are closing ranks with all journalists and recognize that there will always be differences in opinion on how stories are covered and that how questions are couched in interviews is no license for online abuse,” the union explained.
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